I’ve been pretty useless as a Third City contributor lately. It’s because I’ve been under the weather.
I caught depression a while back. I think I got it from my wife. Or maybe the maintenance man in my condo building. He’s been looking pretty downtrodden.
Feeling not funny is one of the signs you’ve picked up depression. Funny is still familiar to you but you experience no pleasure from it. Like when you have a bad cold and food is still familiar but unsatisfying because everything you chew tastes like it’s been cut with candlewax. Imagine that but with funny, and otherwise being overwhelmed by a terrible sadness. That’s the depression bug.
For those who’ve never had it, depression runs its course over a prolonged period.
Early warnings that you’re coming down with depression include the break out of piles: piles of soiled laundry, piles of dirty dishes, piles of bulging trash bags, piles of junk mail—piles everywhere.
Whenever Woody Allen gets depressed, he watches….
How far your depression has advanced correlates directly with how much of the day you spend wearing the clothes you slept in. For example, if you spend all day in your pajamas and then change around dinner time, you can expect your depression to get 25 percent worse before it gets better.
In the later stages symptoms may include your face being unshaven and your body being unwashed, or your wife telling you to “snap the fuck out of it!”
By this time, the major activity in your day involves getting up from lying down in your bed and moving to lie down on the couch. There you’ll consider things like, “How many people bludgeoning me with hammers would it take before I’d move a muscle to do something about it? Well, it would depend. Are these muscle-bound men with sledges or small children with tack hammers?” before losing your will to ponder stuff entirely.
For me, classic hardboiled fiction relieves the symptoms. Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Lew Archer: these cynical sleuths help to mitigate the melancholy that ails me. Seems random I know. So why? The answer would require analysis, which would require exerting my brain, which all sounds awfully exhausting.
The Sorrow and the Pity — or maybe he’s depressed cause he watches the Sorrow and the Pity….
Hey! Bourbon is a welcome remedy that really needs no explanation, but side effects include crying in a stupor and shelling out for the stuff that won’t give you a hangover.
If you don’t want to catch depression make sure to strengthen your immunity. It’s best to avoid:
1.) Not having a full-time job or career prospects and thus…
1a.) Any advanced degree in the humanities
2.) Personal debt
3.) Family dysfunction
4.) Movies about the Holocaust
There are probably more.
So anyways that’s why I haven’t written anything in a while. If The Third City was a tragedy or sullenness blog then maybe, but it’s a humor blog, and there’s nothing funny about depression.
At any rate, I hope to be back to my old self soon.
I’ll just keep taking my vitamin C and getting my rest. If I eat something maybe that will help. Wait, is it starve a cold and feed depression or the other way around? I can never remember.
Editor’s Note: C‘s last post for The Third City was Sports Talk Radio….
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The road is so dark. The sky is majestically Prussian blue.
The stars mirror themselves in the asphalt guiding our driving.
And my mind flies with thoughts of seeing an UFO…an extra terrestrial being, jumping out of the silent and expansive corn field…a dream I’ve
carry within me since childhood…
Every road trip I have taken brings this secret desire to the front…I always say to myself…one of these days, girl…one of these days….
But, no…no extra terrestrial being or UFO appeared, folks…on our way to Oklahoma.
Editor’s Note: Beatriz’s last post for The Third City was On the Road Again….
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My late father-in-law always reminded me of Woody Guthrie, but without the guitar. He did play the piano, although that is an inconvenient instrument to lug around when hopping freights.
Dusty was born in 1910 or 1911, depending on who you believe. He grew up on the south side of Chicago and spent his summers with his grandparents in Peru, Indiana. He traveled all over the world yet his fondest memories remained in those two places.
An only child, Dusty left home when he was fifteen and hopped a freight train to adventure. He lived the hobo life, picking up work here and there, passing through towns and boxing the town champ for a meal or a few bucks and seeing the country from California to the New York island. Having black hair, he also blended in well for a time in Mexico where he grew a beard and rode a motorcycle.
He worked on Hoover Dam for awhile until he discovered that his wages all went to room and board. That didn’t sit well with him so he up and left, followed by the foreman and the sheriff. Jail was no stranger to Dusty. Living the vagabond life, he was occasionally arrested for vagrancy or merely marched to the town border. He claimed to have also spent some time on a chain gang down south.
He always landed on his feet, though. Feet that were always itching to roam those pastures of plenty.
He told me of one box car experience that sounded straight out of a movie. He hopped onto a car that already held two other ‘bos. They looked at this diminutive interloper and decided that they’d have a piece of him, as the parlance goes.
The great Woody Guthrie — and while we’re at it….
Now, Dusty was not a big man. He was about five foot five at the most and weighed about a hundred and thirty five pounds his entire adult life. But he was a scrapper. During the two years he spent in high school he was the citywide wrestling champ. He could also throw a punch. When in his sixties, he felled a big guy (who decided to come at him after a fender bender) with one punch. Broke his jaw.
So these two jokers in the box car…one of ‘em rushed Dusty. Dusty ducked and the guy went sailing out the open door into the passing scenery. He blocked the haymaker from the other galoot with one hand and with the other hand, now a fist, sent his attacker sprawling into a corner of the car where he stayed, nice and polite for the rest of the journey.
During his roaming, he also taught himself mathematics and science through “book l’arnin’.” He was (and remained his entire life) an avid reader. He was a lover of “the classics,” history and science fiction. He also appreciated fine art and music and loved to play chess.
For a while he ceased his ramblin’ round and worked as a cowboy in Wyoming. He loved those cowpoke days; being in the great outdoors, riding a horse, herding livestock and doing other ranch work. He was good at it.
He would have stayed on there but via circumstance and desire, he returned to his family and friends in Chicago and learned a trade. He became a machinist, a skill that would serve him well for many years. He eventually met a special girl and got married just as World War Two arrived.
He enlisted and served overseas. Being a skilled machinist, he spent much of the war on his own in a jeep with a driver, traveling to various units on the front lines to repair their big guns. As with most vets, he never talked much about his war years but he did say it helped make him a man. He said if it wasn’t for the war, he may never have decided to settle down and raise a family. He also said that if it wasn’t for the war, he wouldn’t have gotten to see so much of Europe!
How `bout a shoutout to the Weavers!
After the war, he did settle down and raise a family. His left-leaning politics did lead to some McCarthy-like overseeing; he was a staunch unionist as well as, in his younger days, a Socialist— a dangerous thing to be or have been in 1950s America. He never lost his sense of wonder, curiosity and the bug to travel. He always worked more than one job so he could save up vacation money.
Even after retiring and moving to Indiana, he still found part-time work as a machinist so he could have some extra do-re-mi for travelin’ purposes. Travel, he and his wife did, to many different places all over the world. In his 70s, he was one of the oldest persons to go trekking in the Himalayas.
In his early eighties, Dusty suffered a series of mini-strokes and lost his vision. Never being one who saw anything as an obstacle, he merely considered his blindness to be yet another challenge as well as a new adventure. He couldn’t drive or bike anymore but, using the wee bit of peripheral vision that he did have, he could walk—and he had the worn out shoe soles to prove it.
Time, however, goes on and it doesn’t care who it takes along or doesn’t. Dusty’s wife of over fifty years passed away and he came to live with us. Loss of sight didn’t stop him from wandering the streets of Chicago by himself, streets that he remembered quite well from his youth.
Well into his eighties, he’d walk the ten blocks to the Senior Center to work out on their exercise equipment and eat lunch for a buck and a half. He got the biggest kick out of the latter for he always loved a bargain. Afterwards, he would walk back to our place or, ever the adventurer, roam around and figure out how to get home from wherever he ended up. He even traveled by himself to Australia to visit and spend some time with his son who had moved and started his own family down under.
As he neared ninety, he fell and developed a bleed on his brain. His wandering was finally halted. In fact, when visiting him in the nursing home one time, where his grasp onto reality faded in and out, I heard him utter, “My feet can’t feel the ground.”
Soon after his ninetieth birthday he boarded that train bound for glory.
Dusty was a part of my life for many years and there was certainly more to him than this “wayfaring stranger”aspect but it played an important role in the shaping of his make up and world view. Plus it sounds so damn romantic and devil-may-care.
The best way I knew how to bid farewell to Dusty was through the words of a Woody Guthrie tune, “So long, it’s been good to know yuh.”
Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Eugene Porter….
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See…when going on a road trip, you drive for awhile…then stop for awhile…and the movement’s set. What’s not always set is the road and the traffic on it.
My most enjoyable moments are when there’s nobody ahead of us. Ah! You have the road as a silver line stretching itself in front of you and, like a “gentle” knife, it seems like it’s cutting nature in half.
It’s also enjoyable for me to see no cars behind us. Other cars are bothersome, to tell you the truth – they break the air into noise, bring more toxic fumes and interrupt the flow of imagination. It’s even worse if I don’t like the car model or its color. I prefer that our car’s the only one making noise, disrupting nature and polluting the air.
My partner says I may be antisocial…uhm…I had the whole road trip to think about it. He may be correct….
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On the cusp of the C2E2 comics convention’s opening night, Revolution Brewing opened its tap room to cartoonists, fans and other attendees to welcome them as well as make their brewery a bit more visible.
A couple of my old buddies (or does it sound better to say ‘long time friends’?) decided to attend. We set out in two separate cars to thirtythreehundredsomething north Kedzie to mingle and sample their wares.
Mostly, to sample.
Since no address or signage was visible from the street, it took a couple of trips up and down Kedzie to try and find the place. Finally, we just parked, knowing that it had to be somewhere nearby. As Mike and I, the two drivers, disembarked from our cars to discuss our strategy, we noticed Bill wandering down the street and crossing over to the other side.
“When it comes to beer,” I said to Mike, “Bill is a bloodhound. Let’s just follow him and his nose.”
So we did and it led us to a door of a warehouse with a little sheet of paper taped to the window that read Revolution Brewing. Up the stairs we went and found Bill seated at the bar.
“What took you so long?” he asked.
It reminded us of the Pink Floyd tune….
We bellied up as well and surveyed the menu of drafts. Having a preference for dark beers, I ordered a porter. They called their porter “Eugene.”
This, of course, induced Mike to whisper: “Careful with that porter, Eugene”, a take-off on the old Pink Floyd tune, “Careful with That Axe, Eugene.” The stream of consciousness we were afloat in led us to reminisce about that particular Pink Floyd cut.
Drotz, a mutual friend of ours from those days of olde, would play “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” over and over and over again at a volume of Spinal Tap Eleven or maybe even Twelve. Together and separately, all three of us had experienced this exhausting aural exercise on many an occasion.
We continued to sit at the bar, drink our brews and relate the various misadventures we had with our dear old mad-as-a-hatter compatriot, Drotz. After a while, we called it a night, thanked our bartenders and exited to the street and our awaiting chariots.
Careful with that axe, man!
During my retreat up Kedzie I decided to turn on the radio. A pleasant little familiar riff played for a few seconds before a voice whispered “Careful with that axe, Eugene.” Instinctively, I turned the volume up to full blast.
Being the modern being that I am, I also used my cell phone to call Bill and Mike to tell them to turn on their radios to the proper station so we could all share in this serendipitous flashback moment.
I hope Drotz was listening too.
Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was The Cheep Detective….
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When going on a road trip, I become fascinated by the sky. My mind becomes meditatively dreamy and my imagination gets tickled by the many cloud formations, sunlight beams, stars and the moon….
Editor’s Note: Beatriz’s last post for The Third City was Flashbulb Memories….
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My name’s Drake. I’m a private eye. I also dig jazz. I was grooving on some vinyl sides of Coleman “The Hawk” Hawkins, when a text came through from an old pal.
Woody was a trumpet player. He was in a flock of trouble with some bad company. I offered to help him out so we arranged to meet at The Crow Bar, the juke joint where he was gigging.
Upon entering this nest of iniquity, I noticed a B-girl at the bar playing with a cockatoo. A third one eagerly waited nearby. On the stage with Woody were a high-hatted drummer and a piano player. As a lark, the piano player had a parakeet on his shoulder. He also had a handlebar moustache. The piano player, not the bird.
Woody nodded at me just before he rose to take his solo. As he stood, a shot rang out and he crumpled to the floor.
I ran to him. I could see I was too late. He looked at me and raised his horn to his lips. In his dying breath he played his swan song, the opening notes to “When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along).”
I took it as a clue.
Everyone knew who Robyn was, an ex-canary from Woody’s combo who was now the moll of Grackle, a low life predator known for trafficking and indulging insects with mynas. She was caged in an apartment up on Blue Jay Way. I wouldn’t be too long in getting there.
A drowsy-lidded red head wearing a feather boa reluctantly answered the door. I hardly recognized her as the winsome warbler she once was but I did recognize the half-empty bottle of Wild Turkey she held tightly in her claws. She was as high as a kite. I valiantly tried to find out from her the whereabouts of Grackle.
“Search me, peeper.” Robyn seductively cooed, “It might be (hic) fun.”
I feel your pain, BB….
I wasn’t about to swallow that malarkey. I smugly sneered at the tipsy chick and clucked, “I think it’s time for you to straighten up and fly right, gull friend.” as I opened the bedroom door. Whap! I got slapped with a sap. What a sucker I was.
Mustachioed parakeets circled my head as I slowly slumped to the floor.
The room was still tilting as I regained consciousness and attempted to stand on my spindly legs. It didn’t take me long to realize that both Robyn and Grackle had flown the coop.
I staggered to an upright position, my wingtips gripping the shag carpeting like talons, and regally fished my phone out of my pocket. I closed one eye to focus and pecked in the numbers that would connect me with the cops and Lieutenant Finch.
“Did you find Robyn?” he squawked.
“Yeah” I groused, rubbing the goose egg on my noggin, “and her hood too.”
As I opened the door to leave, I was confronted with an owl-eyed little man with thick glasses who was standing there holding a lit match over the bowl of a pipe that he was intently puffin on. I groaned, startling him.
“Auk!” he screeched and down the hall he flew, dropping his book of matches. I picked them up and saw that they were from Albie’s, a seedy diner over on Eider and Down.
I took it as another clue.
I knew well the namesake of that diner; Albie Tross, a two-bit underworld hanger-on whose only luck was bad. It wouldn’t be too hard to make him sing.
Coleman `the Hawk’ Hawkins was blowing on his sax….
The world-weary waitress had such puffy bags under her eyes that they looked packed for a long trip. Her accompanying crow’s feet didn’t look like they came from laughing and her raven-colored hair was as bad of a dye job as I’d ever seen. I perched on a stool and she asked me with as little interest as possible what my pleasure was.
“Peregrine tea”, I said, “with a slice of kiwi.”
She smirked and said, “There ain’t no moa. Try again on Tuesday.”
As she turned to walk away, I roughly grabbed her by her apron strings and asked for Albie. She resisted, protecting him like a mother hen, until I flashed a bill large enough to change her mind. She gave a whistle and someone craned his neck out from atop the swinging doors of the kitchen portal to see what was up.
A moment later Albie, a paunchy punk with a prominent proboscis, waddled out. A plume of smoke emanated from the cigarette dangling from his lips, dangerously close to his big beak.
“What d’ya want, snoop?” he chirped.
“Tea. But I’ll take the whereabouts of Grackle instead.”
Fists were drawn and punches were thrown. Cups and saucers broke. A cote tree was felled but in the end Albie, like the stool pigeon he was, coughed up the worm.
Grackle was hiding out in a grubby cabin up in the woods. I went out on a limb and hastily hatched a plan. My idea proved to be pretty loony when Grackle came out, guns ablazing. I forgot to duck and was winged.
I kept my wits and murmured, “Toucan play at this game.” and returned the fire. Even one-handed, I never miss. Grackle became buzzard bait and Robyn was a candidate for the booby hatch.
Woody got to have the last laugh.
Back at my roost, a Charlie Parker record played as flames in the fireplace flickered and flitted. On the divan Lory and I snuggled and smooched. She drowsily sat up and her sleeveless T-shirt slipped from her shoulder, exposing her breast. It was quite an enticing little tit. I stared at her aureole and remembered she was from Baltimore.
She kissed me again and then cocked an eye at my phone. I took it as a clue and turned it off.
There’d be no time for tweeting tonight because this hard-boiled egg was getting laid.
Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was The Pear and the Squirrel….